The Brexit Drama Demonstrates How International Governing Institutions Like The EU Undermine The Will Of The People
Brexit began as a referendum on the economic sovereignty of the United Kingdom and its future with the European Union. It was a referendum on globalization and international governance as well. It has since become a political drama that threatens the future of the British economy, the integrated European economy, and international trade. Unfortunately, Brexit has also become a source of partisan paralysis that could create a constitutional crisis and drive a permanent wedge between political factions in Britain. The inability of British lawmakers to forge a deal acceptable to EU member states highlights how difficult it can be to represent the will of a People in a globalized world.
Although only a slim majority of Brits decided to cast a vote in favor of Britain's withdrawal from the European Union, a majority of Brits did decide to withdraw from the EU. The Treaties of the European Union allow a member state to withdraw from the political and economic trade union, so Brexit should have been a simple matter of implementing an exit protocol. Unfortunately, little preparation was made to address the realities that would come with decoupling a national economy from an integrated regional economy. Even if members of the EU had better planned for the potential of a break from one or all of its members, the cost of a pre-planned, orderly withdrawal would, probably, have still been high enough to discourage members states from acting on their own national interests and the will of their Peoples.
Globalization in terms of trade and international governance has helped facilitate the flow of commerce and stabilize foreign relations, but it has done so by creating an interdependency that places heavy costs on nations that act out of sync with the collective will of international norms. The economies of the EU and the global economy have become so integrated that they can no longer function properly without each other. Because free trade arrangements do not always fulfill the interests of member countries and their Peoples, this lack of autonomy prevents the Peoples of the world from addressing their own economic interests. Nations must either choose to take all of the benefits and costs that come with EU membership or they must choose to pay the price of not belonging. It is a situation that undercuts national sovereignty and the individual right to representation in government.
At the local level, the voice of an individual has far more weight in government than the voice of an individual at the national level. When it comes to international governance, the voice of an individual is so watered-down that international leaders are left to listen to the loudest voices, which are often the voices of the most influential individuals and groups. Even if international leaders are listening to the collective voice of a majority, minority views and interests must still be addressed. Regrettably, international governing institutions tend to cater to the collective and most influential at the expense of the underrepresented, because their voices cannot be heard. The very fact that the UK does not have the opportunity to easily redefine its relationship within the EU to better fit its needs and the will of its People demonstrates the monopolistic nature of the EU and lack of representation Brits and other citizens have in EU governance.
If Great Britain’s parliament does not adopt a Brexit deal by the 29th of March, it will either face an extension of its exit deadline or it will have to embrace a no-deal exit. Assuming the European Union affords Britain additional time, a delay will mean the government of Theresa May has chosen to ignore the will of Brits. The latter will mean Britain must scramble to address some serious economic issues. If the political dysfunction in Britain is anything like that in the United States, no extension will be long enough to ensure the creation and passage of a constructive deal. A no-deal exit will probably not be enough to unite lawmakers. With talk of permanent deals and new referendums, it is clear the only solution for lawmakers is to ignore voter will and avoid a Brexit. That impulse is precisely why the influence of international governing bodies must be held accountable to the will of a People instead of political conveniences. It is also why Britain must allow Brexit to move forward.
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